Yesterday, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called upon Major League Baseball to stop using the term “bullpen.”
PETA’s suggestion: Start using the term “arm barn” instead.
I’m not going to lie. “Arm barn” goes pretty hard. I can just hear Bob Uecker announcing that Josh Hader was warming up in the arm barn in a close game. It sounds great. PETA… I applaud you for that suggestion, but… why? Why have you decided to die on this hill?
No animals are getting hurt when we refer to it as the “bullpen,” and the term isn’t rooted in some deep hatred against cattle either. While the exact origin of the term is unknown, the most popular theory involves Bull Durham tobacco often being advertised at several MLB stadiums near the area where pitchers warmed up. And, in the most early 1900's fashion ever, the tobacco company stated that any player who hit a home run off one of their signs would receive $50 (just shy of $1,500 today). In 1910, approximately 85 signs were hit.
Other popular theories involve fans arriving late to games being shuffled into a standing area, like cattle, near where the pitchers warmed up. I guess that has some relation to cattle being treated inhumanely, but they weren’t being mistreated at the baseball games. If anything, it was the people showing up late to the games that were being mistreated by being forced into crowded areas and standing in the hot sun.
So, with everything else baseball has done to harm animals, why is “bullpen” what PETA has decided to try and cancel? Need I remind you how baseball gloves are made? Or even the ball. The fact is this one is about money and attention. PETA is known for looking out for animals in distress, but they also sadly kill animals. You don’t believe me? Then, why did the PETA-run animal shelter in Norfolk, Virginia euthanize thirteen times more dogs and eleven times more cats than the national average for privately-owned shelters in 2019?
PETA tried to defend its high-kill rate by claiming that they are a “last resort” shelter that takes in difficult animals that other shelters can’t deal with. That sounds reasonable enough. The only problem is that there are several other shelters that operate under similar “open admission” policies who euthanize far fewer animals than the PETA shelter. In fact, in 2019, PETA euthanized nearly four times as many animals as other “open admission” shelters in Virginia (17 percent to 65 percent). Even crazier, 2019 was one of the best years for PETA’s euthanization rates. But since the turn of the century, PETA has had 13 years where they have killed more than 85 percent of the animals that come through their doors in their shelter.
This is the same organization that had to apologize for taking a dog off someone’s porch and killing it in 2014. Now, there’s a law in Virginia that forbids shelters from killing animals within five days after taking them in. However, in the case of Maya the chihuahua in 2014, PETA admitted to killing the dog within “just a few hours” after taking it off the porch. They are not a good organization, but everyone already knows that and I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but that might be something PETA does.
PETA is what happens when you start a foundation with good intentions but let some crazy people have some control. If you’re going to be upset about something in baseball, be upset about something that actually harms animals, like the manufacturing of gloves and balls that I mentioned earlier. There are several non-leather options available online right now. Pushing Major League Baseball to take a stand against leather gloves would not only be something that could actually benefit animals, but it would also be an achievable goal.
But no, it’s better to go after inoffensive terms that have little to no relation to animals at all, I guess. PETA doesn’t really care about animals, and that’s why no one takes them seriously.